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Thibaut Courtois certainly is the reason that Real Madrid won the Champions League final 1-0 win over Liverpool. Courtois made nine saves as Real Madrid's defense allowed an astonishing 24 shots. Those nine saves were the most since 2003-04 by any keeper in a single Champions League final.

While man of the match awards usually trend toward goal scorers, Courtois' heroics were recognized as he took home the honors on the biggest stage in club soccer. After the match Courtiois recognized that Liverpool was the more dominant team but that didn't matter thanks to his performance. Liverpool generated an 2.14 expected goals taking their shots from good positions but Courtois was able to repel them all. Mohamed Salah and Sadio mane actually combined to take six shots in or around the six-yard box.

For a keeper to ensure that none of those ended in a goal is an extraordinary performance. 

When asked after the match what his best save was, Courtois responded saying that it was his save on Mane in the 20th minute. Due to the state of the game, if that shot went in, it would've changed everything before Real Madrid could get going. Courtois needed a little help from the post after making the save but when your team allows 24 shots, the keeper deserves a bit of luck. It is also the type of save that gives him the confidence to keep up that performance throughout the game. 

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Speaking on the tactical side of the save, Courtois said, "The save on Mane was a ball between lines and there we didn't defend well. But in general, I thought it was my day and I had to save everything." And he indeed did save everything. He has done this during Real Madrid's entire run making 59 saves which is a record in a Champions League season. 

Real Madrid's team wouldn't work without the strength of Courtois as in Champions League they've had to soak up pressure and hit teams on the counter. Fans think of teams like Madrid as generally being able to control games, leaving keepers to come up big in a couple of big moments but often go long stretches without having a lot to do. That was very much not the case for Courtois in the Champions League since Real had to go through Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. Madrid frequently were the underdog, counterpunching, and relying on Courtois to keep them in striking distance.

In fact, of all keepers in the tournament who played 200 minutes or more, going all the way back to the group stage, only 10 faced fewer shots than Courtois' 15.07 per 90 minutes. It wasn't just that Courtois stood on his head in the final, though he did, but that he was an integral part of the plan that got Madrid there in the first place.   

And Courtois only got better as the tournament went on. His 2.58 post-shot xG prevented in the final was the best single game performance of any keeper in the tournament. Only Geronimo Rulli was close, preventing 2.14 goals in Villarreal's 3-0 at Juventus. No other keeper broke 1.7 in a single match. Just an epic performance to end an epic run and bring Real a record 14th Champions League title.